Treats


No-bake, low oxalate protein bars are easy to make and yummy!  They are high protein, high fiber and unfortunately high fat, so be careful how many you eat if fats are a problem for you.  What I really like about these bars is that they fill my kids up and keep them full until the next meal.  They also provide me with an easy, on-the-go breakfast choice if I need to get out of the house quickly.  These work well in an insulated lunch box, a cooler, or in your backpack when the weather is cool, but be careful about leaving them out too long in the summer or in a well-heated building.  They depend on refrigeration to keep their shape and pleasant texture.  Too much heat and they will melt into a gooey (yet still tasty) mess.

No-Bake Low Oxalate Protein Bars

1 ½ cups quick oats or rolled oats (GF)
½ cup ground flax seed
1 cup whey protein powder (or use rice or pea protein powder)
½ cup flaked coconut
¾ cup raisins (or dried cherries or apples)
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
½ cup honey (or agave nectar)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Sunbutter brand sunflower seed butter
3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-3 tablespoons water

Combine the oats, flax seed, protein powder, coconut, raisins and pumpkin seeds in a bowl and mix well.  Put the honey, Sunbutter, butter and vanilla in a separate glass or ceramic dish and microwave on high for about 30 – 45 seconds until the butter is melted and the Sunbutter is gooey.  Stir the Sunbutter mixture until it is well combined.  Add the Sunbutter mixture and the oat mixture and stir until the oats are well coated.  It should have a crumbly, somewhat dry texture that barely holds together when you press it (like the oatmeal topping of an apple crisp).  Add the water a half tablespoon at a time, stirring well each time, until you get a mixture that will hold together more like playdough (still a little dry but could be rolled into one big ball that would stay together).  It usually takes about 2 tablespoons water.

Press the oat mixture into a 9 X 9 inch baking dish OR other convenient dish with about the same dimensions (you could press it directly into a convenient-sized Tupperware).  I often use a Pyrex glass baking dish with a plastic lid.  For easy removal, line the bottom of the pan with plastic wrap plus enough to double back over the top as a cover after you’ve pressed the oat mixture into it.  Put the dish into the refrigerator and let chill overnight or for at least four hours.  Cut into 18 bars (4.5 x 1 inch each).  Transfer into an air tight container (or wrap in the plastic wrap) and keep refrigerated for up to two weeks (Maybe three?  I’ve never had them that long, but there’s nothing in here that doesn’t keep a long time in the refrigerator).

Makes 18 bars.

Oxalate Note:  Each low oxalate protein bar has about 8 grams protein (when made with whey powder), 3.5 grams fiber, 8 grams fat and 5 mg. oxalate.  Rolled oats (11.1 mg. oxalate/half cup), Sunbutter (6.1 mg. per 2 tablespoons), ground flax seed (6.6 mg./half cup) and pumpkin seeds (5.2 mg. per 2 tablespoons) are medium oxalate.  All other ingredients are low or very low oxalate.

Variations:  I’ve been fooling around with this recipe for months and although every combination I’ve tried has been tasty, it’s really hard to get a good, pleasant consistency with even a slight variation.

If you want less sugar, you may remove 1 – 2 tablespoons honey without too much trouble.  You can also use some liquid Stevia in place of the water.  Do not replace the honey with applesauce  unless you want a really sticky (yet still tasty) bar.

If you want less fat, you may leave out 1 – 2 tablespoons butter OR 1 -2 tablespoons Sunbutter and still have a decent bar.

If you want less oxalate, try substituting roasted chestnuts for the pumpkin seeds or try substituting ½ cup coconut for ½ cup oats.  You may also leave out 2 – 3 tablespoons of Sunbutter, although you may have to add an extra tablespoon of butter.

If you can handle more oxalate, then you may substitute 3 – 4 more tablespoons of Sunbutter for the butter, or you may add up to 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds.

The raisins, pumpkin seeds and coconut are interchangeable with other dried LO fruit (try apple, cherry or banana), roasted chestnuts or coconut (about 1 cup total of these add-ins).  I’ve also had luck increasing the protein powder by another fourth cup.

Do not replace the butter or coconut oil with other cooking oils.  The solid nature of these oils when refrigerated is what makes this recipe work.

Other Diets: No-bake low oxalate protein bars may also be appropriate for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and controlled carbohydrate diets with the appropriate ingredient choice.

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In honor of the new school year I’ve been experimenting with low oxalate granola bar and energy bar recipes for back-to-school lunchboxes and nutritious breakfasts on the go.  These bars have 4 – 5 mg. oxalate per bar, depending on which ingredients you use and how big you make the bars.  I was able to make them high fiber, gluten-free, dairy-free, a good source of omega-3s, and pretty dang yummy.  An added bonus:  these aren’t only fun for kids to eat, they’re fun for kids to make! They resemble an oatmeal bar cookie more than a traditional granola bar because I chose to use milk (or coconut milk) instead of carmelized butter (or coconut oil) and sugar as my binder, but this is what keeps them easy enough for young children to make.

Cameron stirs his low oxalate granola bars.

My boys were able to measure, pour and mix these granola bars with only a little assistance.  I had to do the final spreading and baking, but the boys did most of the work themselves.  Unfortunately I timed things wrong the first time we made these bars and they were almost cooled and ready to cut at 5:15 when the boys and I came inside from playing.  I hadn’t made dinner yet and the boys “needed one” right then, so I cut a couple bars and we had them with milk.  Then I cut a couple more bars, added some apple slices, fresh veges and cottage cheese and called it dinner.  The hamburgers thawing in my fridge could wait until the next night, but enjoying the boys’ fresh-baked granola bars could not.  After all, it’s the daily ritual of sitting down at the dinner table and enjoying each others’ company that’s important  to me.

Easy Low Oxalate Granola Bars

2 cups GF rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
3/4 cup raisins OR dried cherries
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup flaked or coursely shredded coconut
1/4 cup isolated protein powder (whey, rice or pea), optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 15 ounce can condensed milk (OR 1 can coconut milk*)
1/2 cup honey or sweetener of your choice**

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9 x9 inch baking pan.  Combine the oats, flax seeds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, coconut, protein powder and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the milk and sweetener.  Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture and stir until just moistened.  Press the granola into the prepared pan, then bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.  (If you do not have a 9 x 9 inch pan, you can press the granola into 9 or 10 inches  of a 13 x 9 inch pan and leave the rest empty).

Let the granola bars cool completely, then cut it into 14-18 bars (about 1 inch by 4.5 inch each).  Store the bars in an air-tight container for up to one week.

*A Note about Coconut Milk: If your brand of coconut milk is thick and creamy, this recipe should work well.  If it is really “liquidy” this recipe may work better if you add 1/8 cup coconut flour.

** A Note about Sweeteners: Honey, maple syrup, sugar, Splenda or 1 teaspoon liquid stevia are all low oxalate (or very low oxalate) and all work in this recipe, but honey and maple syrup add the best flavor.  If you use liquid stevia, these bars will not brown.  You may want to add a teaspoon of honey to help the bars brown or set a timer for doneness (note: do not use powdered stevia–it is high oxalate).  You may also want to experiment with different levels of sweetness.  When I make these bars with extra raisins and dried apples, I reduce the sweetener.

Oxalate Note:  Many of the ingredients in these granola bars are medium oxalate, including rolled oats (11.1 mg./half cup), ground flax seed (6.6 mg./half cup), dried cherries (5.2 mg./half cup) and some brands of coconut milk (coconut milk ranges from 0-6.6 mg./half cup).  Condensed milk, flaked coconut, salt and honey are all very low oxalate (less than 1.0 mg./serving), while raisins (3.8 mg. /half cup), pumpkin seeds (2.6 mg./tablespoon) and whey protein powder (2.4 mg./half cup) are low oxalate. (Pea powder is 5.4 mg./scoop while rice protein is 6.5 mg./half cup). These bars have about 4 – 5 mg. oxalate per bar, depending on which ingredients you use and how big you make the bars.

Variations:  Try any combination of dried apples, dried bananas, roasted chestnuts or Nestles premium white morsels, instead of the raisins, pumpkin seeds and coconut.  One really yummy combination is 3/4 cup dried apple pieces, 3/4  cup raisins and 1/2 cup coconut. (Your total add-ins should equal about 1.5 – 2 cups.)

Traditional Granola Bars: You may also wish to make a more traditional granola bar or granola.  Do this by omiting the milk.  Toast the oats and pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes until golden brown.  Meanwhile, put 1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil) in a skillet on low heat.  When the butter melts, add 1/2 cup brown sugar, honey or maple syrup and stir until the mixture carmalizes (liquid stevia and Splenda will not work). Pour all the other ingredients (except the milk) in a bowl, add the carmel mixture and the toasted oat mixture, and stir until just combined.  Press the granola into a greased 9 x 9 inch pan and bake for about 30 minutes for traditional granola bars OR spoon the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 25 -30 minutes, stopping and stirring the mixture every 8-10 minutes during the cooking for traditional granola.  Cool completely before cutting the bars or storing.

Update on 9/28/11:  You may need to use more butter if you put in extra add-ins or tend to use rounded scoops like I do.  Yesterday, I made traditional granola and had to add an extra tablespoons of oil to make it work.

Other Diets: These bars may be appropriate for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and controlled carbohydrate diets with the proper modifications.

Want to beat this heat and have a little fun with the kids?  Make low oxalate popsicles! It’s been between at least 96-100 degrees every day in Missouri for over two weeks (107 on Tuesday!) and my entire yard, plus the garden and the kids are drooping.  I can’t bring myself to cook much or to eat hot foods, so my boys and I have been slurping breakfast smoothies and making frozen pops instead.

The easiest way to make a low oxalate popsicle is to put your favorite low oxalate juice in a plastic popsicle mold and freeze it at least 6 hours or overnight.  Alternatively, you may use ANY small, food safe container with any kind of wood or plastic stick as your popsicle mold (put saran wrap over the container to keep the stick in place until it freezes).  Be creative for some fun!

If you want to experiment with popsicles, keep a few things in mind.

  • Most popsicle recipes can double as a slushie or a smoothie.
  • Conversely, most smoothie or slushie recipes can double as popsicles (omit the ice cubes from slushie recipes).
  • Most things don’t taste as sweet when you freeze them, so you might want to add slightly more sweetener than you think you need.
  • Coconut milk can be substituted for milk or yogurt in most popsicle recipes if you want a dairy-free alternative.
  • You can also use water or juice as a substitute for milk.
  • Use honey, maple syrup, liquid Stevia, Splenda or confectioners sugar to sweeten pops instead of regular sugar or your pop will be grainy.  Be sure to blend the sweeteners well!
  • You can use whole, “chunky” or fully pureed fresh fruit.
  • Liquid expands when freezing so leave a little room at the top.
  • If you use milk or yogurt, partially freezing the pop in an ice cream maker first will give you a creamier pop.
  • Using Greek yogurt in place of regular yogurt gives a creamier, higher protein pop.
  • Using condensed milk instead of regular milk gives a creamier pop (although I personally don’t like the taste as much.)
  • Hand wash plastic molds!  The heat from dishwashers can release toxins from the plastic which will get into your food the next time you use them.
  • Hold the popsicle mold in your hand (or run under warm, not hot, water) until the popsicle slides out easily.

Here’s a couple fabulous low oxalate popsicle recipes to get you started.  You may want to add more sugar if you aren’t on a controlled carbohydrate diet.  I tend to go really light on the sugar or sweetener because I don’t enjoy overly sweet desserts.

Coconut Cream Pops

1 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 cup milk or water (or go crazy and add more coconut milk . . .)
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut (not flaked!)
3 tablespoons honey OR 1/4 cup powdered sugar OR 1/2 tsp. liquid Stevia (see note)
1 teaspoon coconut extract* (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients until well blended.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight (at least 6 hours.)

Yeild: about 3 cups popsicle mix (This makes 12-14 pops with my molds)

Note: You may want to add up to 3/4 cup powdered sugar to this recipe if you like things really sweet.

*Oxalate Note:  Coconut extract is an untested ingredient.  However, coconut is very low oxalate as are all tested extracts, so coconut extract is most likely okay.  The rest of the ingredients are very low oxalate except for the cinnamon which has 1.5 mg. oxalate per 1/4 teaspoon.

OXALATE UPDATE (Dec. 2011):  Cinnamon has been retested since I wrote this post and found to be high oxalate at 38.5 mg./teaspoon.  If you leave the 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in, it will add about 1 mg. oxalate per pop–still low oxalate!  We like these just as well without the cinnamon, however, and nutmeg (9.4 mg. oxalate per teaspoon) is really nice in this recipe! 

Melon Pops

4 cups melon (muskmelon or watermelon for very low oxalate, honeydew or cantaloupe for low oxalate)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (optional)
1 cup apple juice (or orange juice or pineapple juice)

Put all of the ingredients in the blender and mix until well-pureed.  Pour the mix into popsicle molds and freeze overnight or at least 6 hours.  Alternatively, make different layers using watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew for a pastel-striped fun pop.  Let each layer set (about 3 hours) before adding the next layer.

Yeild: About 3 1/2 cups mix

Strawberry Lemonade Pops

8 ounces strawberries*
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from 1 good-sized lemon or two smaller lemons)
3 tablespoons honey OR 1/4 cup confectioners sugar or 1/2 teaspoon liquid Stevia

Put all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until well mixed.  Put into popsicle molds and freeze overnight or at least 6 hours.

Yeild: about 3 cups popsicle mix

Oxalate Note:  Strawberries are a “lower” medium oxalate fruit with 7.8 mg. oxalate per 1/2 cup fresh strawberries.  Lemon juice and all  of the sweeteners are low or very low oxalate, so each pop (3 cups mix makes about 12-14 pops with my molds) is low oxalate.

Other Diets:  Coconut Cream Pops, Melon Pops, and Strawberry Lemonade Pops may be appropriate for gluten-free, dairy-free (use water instead of milk), controlled carbohydrate, and vegetarian diets with appropriate modifications.

Here’s a re-post from my blog, The Dinner Bell with a few low oxalate adjustments.  Enjoy!

We’re two weeks into the beastly hot weather in Missouri, and my boys and I have the crabby fussies.  We don’t want to eat.  We don’t want to cook.  We want to go outside and play without passing out. . .

Luckily, muskmelon and watermelon are starting to ripen in our garden and it’s time to make cold, melon slushees.  In fact, I just finished sipping one, and it was so refreshing that I had to share.  The following recipe is for muskmelon slushies, but keep in mind that you can substitute watermelon, cantaloupe (a special variety of muskmelon) or honeydew for the muskmelon.  You might also like lime juice in place of the lemon.  Even better, if you have any slushie left over, pour it into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 8 hours.  My boys gobble these popsicles up!

Muskmelon Slushies

4 cups musk melon, preferably refrigerator cold or partially frozen
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2  tablespoons honey or sugar*
6-8 ice cubes

Put the melon, lemon juice and sugar in the blender and  blend until combined (if the melon is not quite ripe you may have to add a little water to get it to blend).  Add the ice and blend until “slushie” (about 10 – 15 seconds.) Pour into serving glasses and enjoy!

Yeild: About 4 cups of slushie.

*Note: Adjust the sugar and lemon juice in this recipe based on the sweetness of the melon and your own tastes.  (Usually it’s best if you keep the ratio even). I’m getting fresh muskmelon and cantaloupe from my garden right now and it’s so sweet, I  don’t think it needs more than half a tablespoon of sugar.  Of course, my boys would prefer that I halve the lemon juice and double the sugar . . .

Oxalate note:  Muskmelon, lime juice, sugar and honey are all very low oxalate (VL), making these slushies an especially refreshing summer treat for low oxalate dieters (0.8 mg. oxalate per 1/2 cup muskmelon and less than 0.5 mg. oxalate per tablespoon for honey, sugar, and lemon juice).

Variation 1:  Add 1/2 cup plain yogurt (L) or coconut cream (VL) to the muskmelon for a creamier slushie.

Variation 2:  Try watermelon (VL), cantaloupe (L)  or honeydew melon (L) in place of the muskmelon.   Also try lime juice (L) in place of the lemon. (Note: although cantaloupe is a smaller, sweeter variety of muskmelon, it tests higher in oxalate content than “muskmelon” at 3.1 mg. oxalate per 1/2 cup serving)

Variation 3: Replace the lemon juice and sugar with 1/2 cup grapefruit, orange OR pineapple juice (all VL oxalate).

Other Diets: Muskmelon slushies may be appropriate for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan dieters.  Controlled carbohydrate dieters may want to decrease the amount of sugar.